After the “betrayal” of Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli fans were rightfully upset at the situation and demanded the squad be reinforced to handle the damage left by Pipita leaving for Juventus. Therefore all eyes turned onto Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis.
July was a very bitter month for the azzurri and its faithful. Their star player and record breaking goalscorer, Gonzalo Higuain, left for massive rivals Juventus.
Not only did Napoli fans see this as a betrayal, they also saw it as a complete mess up on the part of club president, Aurelio De Laurentiis.
De Laurentiis unleashed a massive €90million release clause on Higuain’s contract. Therefore, De Laurentiis could do nothing but sit back and watch his bitter rival poach off his best player. An answer was needed, and it was needed quickly. With fans taking to the streets to express their disgust with the player and the management of the club, ADL needed to make a swift comeback in terms of big money signings.
Here are the signings that were brought in and players that were offloaded by the partenopei this past summer:
-Lorenzo Tonelli (from Empoli for €10million)
-Emanuele Giaccherini (from Sunderland for €1.5million)
-Arkadiusz Milik (from Ajax for €32million)
-Piotr Zielinski (from Udinese for €14million)
-Amadou Diawara (from Bologna for €14.5million)
-Marko Rog (from Dinamo Zagreb for €1.5million loan fee)
-Nikola Maksimovic (from Torino for €5million loan fee)
-Luigi Sepe (from Fiorentina, end of loan)
-Igor Lasicki (AC Rimini, end of loan)
-Roberto Insigne (from Avellino, end of loan)
-Gonzalo Higuain (to Juventus for €90million)
-David Lopez (to Espanyol for €4million)
-Mirko Valdifiori (to Torino for €3.5million)
-Mariano Andujar (to Estudiantes for €455k)
-Alberto Grassi (to Atalanta on €400k loan)
-Soma Novothny (to Sint-Truiden for €150k)
-Jonathan De Guzman (to Chievo on loan)
-Eddy Gnahore (to Crotone on loan)
-Bruno Uvini (to Nasr for undisclosed fee)
-Nicolao Dumitru (to Nottingham Forest on loan)
-Juan Camilo Zuniga (to Watford on loan)
-Sebastiano Luperto (to Pro Vercelli on loan)
-Gennaro Tutino (to Carrarese on loan)
-Gabriel (to Milan, end of loan)
-Nathaniel Chalobah (to Chelsea, end of loan)
-Vasco Regini (to Sampdoria, end of loan)
Napoli started off their 2016 summer mercato with two very solid players in Lorenzo Tonelli and Emanuele Giaccherini. However, those two were cast in the dark shadow of Higuain’s departure to Juventus, therefore the fans never really got to appreciate those signings. Thus, Napoli signed a promising striker in Arkadiusz Milik from Ajax.
The big Polish striker has already proven he can be an essential part to the team as he scored a brace in his second ever match for Napoli against Milan. Milik brings something Higuain did not bring to Napoli, a big presence in the box. Milik can score in the air just as much, if not more, than with his feet. Expect more crosses to be sent in the box this year from Napoli.
Now that a striker was signed, Napoli needed to strengthen other areas of the pitch, particularly the midfield. It was blatant that Marek Hamsik and Allan were burnt out halfway through the season, therefore Napoli needed to sign talented backups to cope with the numerous amounts of matches in short spans of time.
Napoli did just that with the signings of Amadou Diawara, Marko Rog and Piotr Zielinski. All three can easily start if need be and are more than capable of adding competition to an already proven midfield trio of Hamsik-Jorginho-Allan. Diawara, Rog and Zielinski are all young additions to a Napoli side built for the present and future.
Now onto the defense, where Napoli have notoriously struggled in the past few seasons. On the contrary, Napoli did have a stretch of games where they did not conceded a goal last season. Sarri has done wonders with the defense Benitez left him with; a “misfit” in Koulibaly, a “past himself” Raul Albiol and uncertainties in Elseid Hysaj and Faouzi Ghoulam. All four ended up providing the foundation to a very successful season for Napoli in 2015/2016.
Napoli only increase their defensive strength with their last gasp signing of Nikola Maksimovic from Torino and Lorenzo Tonelli whom both should add further solidity to Napoli’s defense.
Bittersweet is the word you can call this past summer for Napoli. Many great, young talents enter the fold for the Partenopei, however there is always that bitter taste on the tongue from Higuain’s departure to hated rivals Juventus. All the fans can do now is thank president De Laurentiis for reinforcing the midfield and defense along with signing a promising striker.
Perhaps Napoli were better off not splashing the cash on a big name superstar striker and neglecting other areas that needed improvement. As previously stated, it was apparent Napoli needed defensive and midfield reinforcements and that is exactly what they added to their squad.
Albeit, Napoli could have also landed a wingback capable of playing both left and right wing back positions (eh-hem… Martin Caceres). Overall, the Napoli faithful should be excited to see what is in store for this new, youthful Napoli.
Apparently, Napoli fans can also bear witness to an apparent change of formation as hinted by De Laurentiis in his obligatory tweet to welcome Marko Rog where he stated:
“An acquisition that enriches a midfield that is almost as complete as possible, an acquisition that also grants Sarri the possibility to use a midfield of two instead of a 3…”
Lest we forget that Emanuele Giaccherini can also do a job as a central midfielder if the need arises, although it is foreseen that the Italian will be a backup to Jose Callejon. At a merely €1.5million, the signing of the little Italian workhorse has to be one of the best value signings of the summer in the Serie A.
After this summer’s mercato, Napoli have more certainties coming off the bench and that is something Napoli could not say they had in a while. The Italian runner-ups from last year always had a good team in place, but never did they have a good team coupled with real, quality depth. This year they may just have exactly that, and it paves the way for a very exciting season to come from the azzurri.
Napoli will be a team to keep a close eye upon this season as they look to attempt to dethrone Juventus off of Italy’s podium once and for all, while attempting to make some noise in the Champions League along the way.